‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’s’ new season upholds expectations

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Courtesy of Grand Prix 247

Formula 1: Drive to Survive season five was released Friday, Feb. 24.

It’s the return of the “piranha club” to Netflix. The drama filled, adrenaline rush documentary reappeared for its fifth year in a row on Feb. 24. “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” brings back iconic moments from the Formula 1 2022 season right before the start of the 2023 season at the Bahrain Grand Prix today through Sunday. Netflix began the show with the 2018 season, giving a behind the scenes look at notable teams and drivers before their car touches the racetrack.

The Netflix series is highly informational and a perfect way for a newbie to the sport to not only watch the previous Grand Prixs but find a newfound interest in the world of racing. Even though the primary point of Formula 1 is to race and dub a Drivers’ World Champion and Constructors’ Champion, it is highly impacted by politics. Watching how Russia invading Ukraine affected Haas driver Nikita Mazepin in the loss of his seat, new regulations for the cars and drivers signing new contracts during silly season emphasizes, it’s not just about the race, but everything that happens off the track. 

I enjoyed the dynamics of drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari, Guenther Steiner team principal of Haas, driver of McCleran Daniel Riccardo’s outgoing personality and Toto Wolff team principal of Mercedes losing his mind during this season. The high stakes of Formula 1 and the ultimate highs and lows of drama are what make the show so gripping. However, at points, usually with crashes, the moment is excessively dragged on which made me want to skip forward at times until the driver was in safety. It highlighted that everything had to be taken with a grain of salt as parts were dramatized for the show.

Every crash, overtake, puncture and penalty made this season just as intense as the last four. After the 2021 season with Max Verstappen winning the Drivers’ World Championship for Red Bull and the first time in seven years that Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes hadn’t won, it begged the question if the season would live up to the battle. 

With each addicting episode, I found it satisfying witnessing Mercedes’ turn to struggle with the performance level of their car and the rise of Ferrari overtaking Mercedes’ spot in the fight with Red Bull. I quickly developed favorites and was proud to watch Max Verstappen and Red Bull win both the Drivers’ World Championship and the Constructors’ Championship even during their cheating allegations, and I loved seeing Ferrari take second in Constructors after their rough season last year. I will say Ferrari did Leclerc dirty with their multiple strategy mistakes at the beginning of the season which irritated me.

One of the problems with “Drive to Survive” is that sometimes the same race is covered in two different episodes where the first episode shows who wins and then the second episode shows the exact same thing just focusing on a different set of teams. After multiple episodes, it became redundant as they used a few of the same clips. I understand that what was happening off track with the teams was important, but I would have liked to see a different race every episode. The editing of clips together is smooth; however, it makes it difficult to know what lap the drivers are on between the start and last lap.

Overall, season five of “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” provides a detailed review over the 2022 season for newbies and matches the quality of the previous seasons. If you watch the races live and don’t care for repetition, it might be best to let this show slide. For fans willing, it provides another place to obsess with everything Formula 1, including an added bonus of drivers and team principals’ funny freakouts.

Rating: A-